After hours of debate, House advances health insurance bill
Final vote planned for Monday
After hours of debate Thursday evening, lasting into early Friday morning, Colorado’s House of Representatives advanced a bill to create a standardized health benefit plan for individual and small group markets on the state’s health insurance exchange.
With the preliminary vote, the bill is now anticipated to be up for a final vote Monday. It would then move to the Senate for consideration.
“Lower health insurance premiums and new options are on the way. No one should avoid going to a doctor or a hospital just because they can’t afford the health care they need,” Rep. Dylan Roberts, D-Avon, a sponsor of House Bill 1232, said in a news release. “I’m proud that we brought everyone in the health care industry to the table to deliver big savings for Coloradans. The Colorado option is going to save people 18% on their health insurance premiums and create an affordable choice for individuals, families and small businesses.”
Cosponsor Rep. Iman Jodeh, D-Aurora, said: “Today we took a monumental step toward giving Coloradans a quality, affordable health care option that increases equity and ensures that families can get the care they need.”
Thursday’s debate on the bill started at 5 p.m., and lasted until nearly 2 a.m. Friday as lawmakers for and against the bill voiced their views on it and proposed and voted on more than two dozen amendments.
If passed by the House and Senate and then signed into law, the bill would direct Colorado’s insurance commissioner to develop a new standardized health benefit plan by January for individual and small group markets on the state’s health insurance exchange.
Starting in January 2023, insurance carriers would have to offer the standardized plan — dubbed the Colorado option — in the counties where they currently offer coverage, at rates at least 6% less than the plans they offered in 2021. Additional premium reductions of 6% would be required in 2024 and 2025, totaling 18% over three years.
Republicans in the Democrat-majority chamber voiced numerous and strong concerns about the bill.
Those concerns included its targeted savings of 18% and the impacts and cost shifts that could have on the health care industry, the fairness and adequacy of its reimbursement rates for doctors and hospitals, its requirement for providers to accept people on the standardized plan, fines for providers who refuse to treat people on the plan, and the impact and unintended consequences the bill will have on health care costs, quality and access in Colorado.